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Emergency phone on the M50

The phone Marie Wilks was using

M50 murder - Timeline

The key events in the murder of Marie Wilks, and the subsequent Police investigation.

Saturday 18 June 1988

Marie Wilks drives her 13 month old son, to her parent's house, where she picks up her youngest sister, Georgina, who was 11 years old.

Marie Wilks Marina car

The Marina car Marie was driving

Marie had only passed her driving test two months earlier, and this was her first big trip.

She was driving the family's Morris Marina Coupe.

She drove to Symonds Yat, using country roads, to meet her husband Adrian, was instructing 43 boys from the Hereford and Worcester Army Cadet Force.

6.40pm: Last confirmed sighting of Eddie Browning – in Pontypridd. Agreed by defence and prosecution in the subsequent trial.

Police search

Police search the embankment

She left at 7pm, and didn't mean to use the M50 motorway, but got lost on her way back to Worcester.

The car broke down on the eastbound carriageway, 700 yards from emergency phone 2076B.

Marie left the two children in the car, and walked to the emergency phone:

  • 7.37pm: Marie calls the Police from the motorway, and asks them to contact her parents, and ask them to pick up her and the children.
  • 7.40pm: The Police call her parents, but her Dad is out fishing, and has the family car.
  • 7.41pm: The Police operator tries to relay the message back to Marie, but can't contact her – he can only hear the background traffic.
  • 7.44pm: Another attempt to contact Marie.
  • 7.49pm: A squad car from Strensham Services finds Georgina walking up the hard shoulder, carrying the baby.
  • 7.51pm: The Police Operator calls a breakdown vehicle, asking them to get to the broken down car as quickly as possible, because Marie is pregnant.
  • 7.59pm: The Police issue a radio message that Marie is missing.
  • 8.01pm: Marie's mother gives the Police a description of what her daughter was wearing that day. Four squad cars go to the scene. A foot search starts. The emergency phone is found hanging down by its cord.
  • 8.10pm: The Police helicopter is sent to scene, and uses a thermal imager, but sees nothing due to the hot weather, and the fact that Marie had only recently been murdered.
  • 8.20pm: The Police make another call to Marie's family, but they haven't heard from her. Tracker dogs are sent to the scene. The search involves 50 officers

Sunday 19 June

Dawn – blood found around the emergency call box.

The murder scene

The murder scene

Monday 20 June

6.00pm: Marie's body found, three miles away from where her car broke down. She had been left down the embankment, on the eastbound carriageway. She'd been stabbed in the left hand side of her throat, cutting the carotid artery. She also had been hit or kicked on the left side of her head. Her jaw was broken. There was evidence that a car had driven onto the hard shoulder, then reversed behind the crash barrier.

Tuesday 21 June

7.30pm: Memorial service held at St George's Church in Barbourne, where Marie had been baptised and confirmed a month before. The service was taken by the Rev. Sam Lowe.

Police photofit

Artist's impression of the suspect

Wednesday 22 June

Marie Wilks Family Appeal fund launched by the Worcester Evening News and the Hereford and Worcester Army Cadet Force. It would have been the couple's 3rd wedding anniversary.

Friday 24 June

The Police release an artist's impression of a man seen at the scene. The description they released at the time said they were looking for a man who was "white, with thin, sharp features, a pronounced chin and a long nose, in his 20's, of a youngish appearance. His hair was cut in the modern style, blonde, short and spiky, with possible yellow or orange highlights. He was of smart casual appearance, as if on his way to a night out. He was wearing a blue/white striped shirt, dark or royal blue trousers."

Police begin the search

Police begin the search

Saturday 25 June

The police stage a reconstruction.

7.00pm: Eddie Browning arrested at a social club in Pentre – about the same time the reconstruction was taking place.

Tuesday 28 June.

Eddie Browning appears in an identity parade in Worcester.

Eddie Browning

Eddie Browning

Wednesday 29 June

Edward Owen Browning charged with murder at Worcester magistrates court.

Wednesday 14 July

The inquest into Marie's death opens.

Wednesday 20 July

Marie's funeral in Worcester – Mourners sang the hymns, Abide With Me, and The Lord's My Shepherd.

Saturday 6 August

A memorial service is held at Worcester cathedral.

Monday 22 August

The Marie Wilks Family Appeal fund, launched in June, tops £16,000. Sylvia, Marie's mother says: "It is fantastic that this money has been donated, and the family are very grateful. Money cannot bring Marie back, but it will be a help to Adrian, and for (their son) later on."

Thursday 15 December

The Marie Wilks Family Appeal fund tops £26,000.

3 October 1989

Trial of Eddie Browning starts at Shrewsbury Crown Court.

Friday 10 November

Eddie Browning found guilty of the murder of Marie Wilks.

May 1991

First appeal by Eddie Browning fails.

May 14 1994  

Eddie Browning released by Appeal Court, who decided his conviction was unsafe, because evidence was kept from his trial by the Police. 

Judges ruled that the jurors might have changed their mind if they had known of Police evidence about the murderer's car, that was not disclosed at the trial.

Inspector Peter Clarke

Inspector Peter Clarke

The Police had not disclosed a video in which Peter Clarke, an off-duty West Mercia officer, was filmed four days before Mr Browning's arrest. He was filmed, supposedly partly under hypnosis. He described a sliver-grey non-metallic non-hatchback Renault car, with chrome bumpers and the registration number C856 HFK. Mr Browning's car was a hatchback Renault, with plastic bumpers, and the registration number C754 VAD.

The Police also failed to disclose two messages provided earlier in the enquiry by Mr Clarke, and another witness, of what they had seen on the M50. Neither message contained any reference to a C registration, although both witnesses later provided evidence referring to this letter.

Disciplinary proceedings began against Superintendent Anthony Stanley, who was accused of neglect of duty.

Eddie Browning was later awarded damages, believed to be in excess of £600,000.

last updated: 17/06/2008 at 15:57
created: 17/06/2008

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